Nigeria: 10 things to know about Senator Amosun, presidential aspirant

By 'Tofe Ayeni
Posted on Monday, 23 May 2022 15:40

Senator Ibikunle Amosun

APC Ogun Central District Senator Ibikunle Amosun has completed his two terms as governor of Ogun State in 2015 and is now eyeing Nigeria's top political office. That means he will be battling heavy weights such as Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Lagos godfather Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for the party’s presidential ticket. How likely is he to win? We break down the top 10 things to know about Amosun.

1. Presidential ambition

Amosun has declared his intention to run for the presidency and has bought the N100m ($240,673) APC presidential form. Surprisingly, although he and Ekiti State Governor Fayemi are both looking to be the APC presidential candidate, they attended each other’s declaration events.

It is unlikely that they are colluding to run together, as the APC is sticking to the Nigerian political system of zoning, and therefore two south-westerners are unlikely to take the ticket. It is more probable that they are simply showing support for each other.

Other Ogun State natives, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and pastor Tunde Bakare (Buhari’s 2011 running mate) are both looking to run under the APC ticket as well.

2. Controversy as governor

A 2019 report by Premium Times revealed that before leaving office, Amosun called the state commissioner of police to hand over the thousands of arms and millions of ammunition he had stored in a secret armoury in the government house.

His successor, Dapo Abiodun, was not his preferred choice, and it is believed that he was eager to clear the house of anything illegal.

Although Amosun issued a rebuttal, not denying having arms, but the illegality of what he did, national security officials told Premium Times that “it was troubling and illegal for a civilian governor to stockpile such a large cache of deadly weapons for such a long period without being detected”.

3. Amosun vs Abiodun

The two are in rival camps, with party members in their state now divided into the two factions that this rivalry has created.

Amosun, Abiodun and Chief Gbenga Daniel, another former Ogun State governor, were close friends at the time. The former two campaigned to get Daniel into office in 2003, and after his two terms, Amosun was elected. However, when in office, Amosun brought corruption allegations against his predecessor and supposed friend’s administration, leading to the confiscation of property.

Daniel, by then a member of the PDP, and Abiodun continued their relationship, with the former supporting the latter’s gubernatorial bid against Amosun’s preferred choice. Consequently, when Abiodun became governor, Daniel was pardoned.

4. Pals with the president

Amosun is known to be an ally of current president, General Muhammadu Buhari, dating back to their days as members of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) political party, formed in 2009 ahead of the 2011 elections.

Amosun defected to the CPC from the ACN as he felt that he was not given enough say in decision-making, for example in his choice of running mate for the 2011 Ogun State gubernatorial elections.

In 2013, the CPC, Action Congress of Nigeria, All Nigeria Peoples Party, and one faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance merged to form what is now the APC.

5. Early life

Senator Ibikunle Amosun was born on 25 January 1958 in Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun State. Although born to Muslim parents, he attended church schools in Abeokuta, something not unusual in the country.

In 1983, Amosun graduated with a higher national diploma from Ogun State Polytechnic.

6. Governor Amosun

Amosun first ran for governor of Ogun State under the All Nigeria People’s Party in 2007 but lost. In the next election cycle, he was elected into office on an Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) party ticket. He was a two-time governor, with the second term as a member of his current party, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

Amosun has been praised for his “legacy projects” as governor. Projects commissioned include the Ogun State Digital Studio, the State Judiciary Complex, the Adire Mall, an amphitheatre and 250 MTR hospitals.

7. The Senator

Amosun is also a two-time senator for Ogun Central District. His first term was from April 2003 to 2007, and he was re-elected in 2019 after completing his second term as governor.

Amosun wrote to the Senate declaring his intention to run for president in the 2023 elections and an investment banker, Emmanuel Adebola Sofela, has said he will run for Amosun’s seat on the APC platform.

8. Life before politics

In 1990, Amosun became an associate member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN). Eight years later, he gained membership to the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria.

Before running for office, he worked as an accountant and in management consulting. In 1990, he founded and became a principal partner of Ibikunle Amosun & Co. (Chartered Accountants) in Lagos. In 2000, he completed an MA in International Finance at the University of Westminster in London.

9. Good choices gone bad

The now arguably infamous former finance minister Kemi Adeosun was Amosun’s pick in 2015. At the time, this was seen as a progressive move, as she was the first relatively young woman to hold the post. However, Adeosun voluntarily resigned in 2018 following allegations that she had forged her National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) exemption certificate – a document necessary to hold office.

However, she was later cleared as the judge declared that as she is a British citizen, she was not qualified to enrol for the NYSC when she graduated at the age of 22. She only became a Nigerian citizen in her 30s, and thus was not eligible for the youth service program.

10. Lack of relationship with other Abeokuta elite

Prominent members of the political and social elite in Nigeria, such as former president Olusegun Obasanjo and the Ransome-Kuti family are from Amosun’s hometown, Abeokuta. However, he does not seem to have a notable relationship with either.

Although there does not seem to be any rivalry, it is interesting that Obasanjo has never publicly supported this younger politician from his hometown.

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